Extensive rock art and superb views are the highlights of this short hike to the top of Comb Ridge.
You can access the Procession Panel from Butler Wash Road which parallels the east side of the majestic Comb Ridge. This good dirt road, suitable for passenger cars in dry weather (driven carefully) mildly undulates over the generally flat landscape here. There are numerous exploring opportunities along this road, some to cliff dwellings, others to rock art. The Procession Panel is possibly the finest of the latter.
From UT163 drive north on Butler Wash Road for about 6 miles to a small parking area, It’s quite likely you’ll be the only people here. Leave your car and look for a cleft in the ridge ahead of you and slightly south. The left hand side of this cleft is a deep red, the right hand side white. The panel is behind the right hand side facing south and you’ll be hiking up the draw to that cleft. It’s important to know this before hiking out as you will see cairns on the way but it’s easy to lose them.
Follow the obvious trail from your vehicle and after a few yards walking through thick tamarisk you’ll find the main obstacle, Butler Wash. It’s a deep arroyo so you’ll need to scramble down the sandy banks (mosquito warning!) and up the other side. After rain it can be very muddy down in the wash. Thankfully, once you’re out of it you’ll be walking mostly on slickrock. (Look out for pottery sherds along the way – we once found half a pot behind a boulder and, of course, left it there.) The hike starts off gently ascending towards the draw once you’re in the draw it steeply ascends towards the panel. The elevation gain from the trailhead is over 500 feet and there’s not too much shade. Near the top, and in that cleft you saw back at the trailhead, you come to a small plateau and you should look for a red rock wall rising to your right. The petroglyphs start quite low down on that wall and continue to the Procession Panel near the top and it’s an easy scramble to get there. There are well over 100 petroglyphs here including animals and geometric designs. The Procession Panel, though, is something special: over 100 small figures in a line, all with one hand raised, as well as some beautifully crafted deer or elk.
Once you’re done, walk back down the red cliff and turn right for a spectacular viewpoint from the ridge over Comb Wash towards Cedar Mesa. Below you is Comb Wash Road which parallels the ridge on this side. Whilst you can’t access ruins from this road, there are a few panels of rock art which are easily accessed.
The Procession Panel is a 3 mile roundtrip you can hike in a few hours but it’s easy to get distracted here.